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Applying for a HMO Licence

  • Applying for a HMO Licence

    Landlords must have a valid licence for each HMO they own. 

    You should complete the application and include the appropriate fee and any relevant documentation. We have a step-by-step video tutorial to help you with your application. We encourage you to watch these before completing the form.

    Watch our video (link opens in new window)

    You can apply and pay for your HMO licence online.

    Apply and pay for your licence  (link opens in new window).

    Within seven days of submitting the application, the applicant must publish information of the application in one or more newspapers, circulating in the locality of the HMO and provide a copy to the NIHMO Unit. 

    We will only begin processing an application after we receive the completed application and payment. 

    Your application is only complete once we receive all the associated documentation. From that point, the council will endeavour to make a decision within three months.

  • Fees

    The HMO licence application cost depends on the number of people living in the property; this is £37 per person living in the property per year. A HMO licence lasts for five years, therefore a five-year licence costs £185 per person.

    This means a five-year licence for a property to hold three tenants would cost £555, four tenants would cost £740 and five tenants would cost £925. There is no maximum fee.

    There is also a charge to vary the licence or to add more occupants after the initial application.

      Cost
    Licence fee  Per person, per year £37
    Licence variations Add a new owner or managing agent  £185
    Add a new occupant £185 for each new occupant
    + £75 inspection fee (per visit) 
    Maximum fee for copy of HMO register A certified copy of an entry relating to a HMO to any person who falls within section 62(9) of the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 £15
    A certified copy of its register, or of an extract from it, to any statutory authority £15
  • Licence conditions

    All HMO licences have a number of conditions attached. These include:

    • the management of the physical property
    • respect of occupants’ rights
    • antisocial behaviour (HMOs situated within the boundary of Belfast City Council must have an emergency out-of-hours contact number for the owner or manager as part of the antisocial behaviour procedure), and
    • neighbourhood concerns.

    The local council granting the licence may include extra conditions that are appropriate to regulate the management, use and occupation of the HMO, its condition and contents.

    If anyone is concerned that the conditions of a licence are not being met, anywhere in Northern Ireland, they can contact the NIHMO Unit.

  • Planning

    All new HMOs must have planning permission and building control approval. An application will not be processed if the property does not have these approvals.

    Anyone considering developing an HMO or converting an existing property into a HMO must apply for planning permission.

    Learn more about planning permission for HMOs

  • Overprovision

    Each local council can refuse an application for a new HMO licence if there is overprovision of HMOs in the locality. The council will decide how much HMO accommodation is needed for a particular area.

    Read about overprovision

  • Fit and proper person test

    Before issuing a HMO licence, the council must establish if the landlord or agent is a suitable person to let privately rented property.

    When completing the application, the landlord or agent must declare and produce evidence of any criminal record (if one exists). The NI HMO unit will then consider whether the applicant has any relevant convictions (motoring offences would not normally be relevant, but a conviction for fraud or theft could be since the operator would be in a position of trust). They will also review previous engagement with regulatory services either within local councils or other statutory agencies such as Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

    If the applicant or agent is an organisation or business, these tests apply to any director, partner or other person involved in the management of the company, trust or organisation.

    An application will be refused if the applicant or their agent is not considered a fit and proper person.

  • Refusal

    Your council can refuse a HMO licence application for a number of reasons, including if:

    • the property would breach planning control if being rented as a HMO
    • granting the licence would result in or contribute to overprovision of HMOs in the locality
    • general HMO management arrangements are not satisfactory
    • the property is not fit for occupation as a HMO or 
    • the owner and any managing agents, are not fit and proper persons.
  • Enforcement action

    The NI HMO unit can take enforcement action on behalf of all NI local councils and have rights to enter a HMO to access the condition of the property. Where a landlord or agent fails to comply with the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (link opens in new window), they can: 

    • vary the terms of a licence
    • issue fixed penalty notices 
    • prosecute and 
    • revoke the licence. 

    All enforcement action depends on the circumstances of each individual HMO, in particular, if anyone is living in the property and if the property is unsafe for occupation.

  • Applying for a temporary exemption notice

    Section 15 of the HMO Act (NI) 2016 allows the council to issue a temporary exemption notice following an application from the HMO owner.

    A temporary exemption notice applies where the owner of an unlicensed HMO makes an application to the council explaining what steps will be taken to stop the premises from being a HMO (such as making sure the number of occupants reduces below three, or that sufficient basic amenities for exclusive use are installed so that occupants do not have to share them). The council must be satisfied that these steps will be successful.

    We have a step-by-step video tutorial to help you fill out your application. We encourage you to watch it before completing the form.

    Watch our video (link opens in new window)

    Apply for a temporary exemption notice (link opens in a new window)

  • Landlord Registration Scheme

    By law, all private landlords in Northern Ireland must register with the Landlord Registration Scheme. The Landlord Registration Scheme collects and maintains accurate information on landlords and their properties. Visit nidirect (link opens in new window) for more information and to register.

    A landlord is exempt from the registration fee if they registered a house in multiple occupation (HMO) under the House in Multiple Occupation Registration Scheme.

    To make sure you aren't charged the landlord registration fee, you must include the HMO and the HMO number when registering other properties you rent to tenants.

    You can find your HMO number on the HMO Licence Register (link opens in new window).

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